Since many of you asked about how I managed to lose 20 pounds, I decided to post a list of the personal lifestyle changes I have made in the last year. If you read my guest post on Diethack, some of this will seem suspiciously similar, which it is. But here is a more updated version just for you!
In my personal experience, the diet and exercise habits listed below have been the key to my weight loss. However, these habits fit my personality and lifestyle. While I think they are simple, and potentially manageable by anyone, I firmly believe every individual needs to find habits that work for them.
Hopefully my experience will inspire and encourage other people in their journey towards healthier living!
- Eat a good breakfast. Ignoring conventional wisdom, I never used to eat breakfast (mainly out of sheer laziness). Now I make it a priority to eat a healthy and balanced morning meal, and I’ve experienced major benefits – more energy, less hunger, less desire to overeat later on. My standard breakfast is oatmeal, fruit and a glass of soy milk. Eating a balanced meal helps propel me into making good food choices for the rest of the day.
- Eat smaller portions. This habit took me a while to get used to, since I spent so many years overeating. In our house, there are two sizes of plates: mini and humongous (like wok-size humongous). I decided to only use the mini plates and smaller bowls, utilizing dish-space psychology to my full advantage. I also found these ways to determine healthy food portions to be extremely helpful. Now my body and brain have adapted to healthier portions – I eat one serving on a smaller dish, eat slowly, and allow my body time to feel full.
- Choose the healthier foods. I try to stick with whole wheat pasta, soy milk, brown rice, low fat yogurt, multi-grain bread, etc. instead of their counterparts. That way I consume foods with their maximum nutrients. Whenever I go grocery shopping, I try to look for healthier equivalents to our household staples.
- Drink lots of water. My reusable plastic water bottle has become the best friend that I bring everywhere. Drinking water has so many health benefits, including curbing the desire to snack between meals.
- Enjoy healthy snacks. In between meals, I try to snack on fruit, vegetables or healthy protein. My current favorites are almonds and dried apricots. Apples and oranges are also great to have around, and easy to carry in my purse. It was pretty straightforward – I had to stop eating junk, and reach for something healthy.
- Skip dessert. My real weakness was dessert – I had a habit of eating dessert on most nights. I decided to wean myself off the dessert by committing to eat dessert only one night a week. This habit allows me to indulge a little, and gives me something to look forward to.
- Exercise three times a week. I began this discipline over a year ago, and have been able to sustain it. My weekly schedule includes one hour at the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Some weeks I’m not as disciplined, but I’ll simply get back on track the following week. Each session includes both cardio and strength training.
- Get physically active in small ways. I love discovering opportunities to be active beyond going to the gym. I try to take the stairs rather than the elevator. I park farther away from my destination so I have to walk. Sometimes I will lift weights or do stomach crunches while watching television. Finding creative ways to get exercise throughout the day can actually be fun!
- Join an online support community. I joined PEERtrainer with a few friends – the site is free, and allows me to have accountability with others. There’s nothing like the encouragement of other people who have similar goals. It’s also a great place to keep a log of meals and workouts, and track my overall progress.
- Find inspiration. I subscribe to a Health magazine, and read blogs and websites related to health, weight loss and nutritious recipes. This simple act has done wonders for me. Now I get regular reminders of my health goals, encouragement, new ideas to try, and testimonies of real people who are intentionally living healthy lifestyles – it’s inspiring and motivating!